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12/20/18 - Thoughts and observations from Thursday at the Disneyland Resort
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12/20/18 - Thoughts and observations from Thursday at the Disneyland Resort

Thanks to my office closing down a day early Thursday was my final work day of the year so I headed to the Disneyland Resort after work. This marked my 33rd visit to the Disneyland Resort for 2018 and most likely my last. I typically do not visit during the holidays due to the drive and crowds so my next visit will be in 2019. The parks and Downtown Disney were both busy but not as crazy busy as I thought it was going to be. It was the last day for some annual passes before the holiday block outs started. The weather was nearly picture perfect in the 70s when I arrived but it cooled down and got damp in the evening touching the 50s before I left. Wait times were moderate until after sunset then crept up as you would expect as more people arrived after work and school.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • I arrived at a very busy Disneyland Resort just after lunch. I exited the freeway and the Ball Road overpass was closed. There was a team of workers on the ramp looking at something. Seems they are evaluating new barriers maybe between the two lanes? I had a little good luck and made it through the first light at Ball so had only a minimal delay. The garage was open and as soon as I rounded the corner traffic came to a standstill. It took about 20 minutes from when I stopped until I was to the tollbooth. They had several tollbooths closed and some of those that were open had traffic backed up on the other side. The line I drew of course moved slower than those on either side.. the lane to my left the car next to me at the start was 5 ahead of me through the tollbooth. There were two cast members in the half of the booth working my lane and they were chatting in between and during cars, not training, just talking it appeared. As I went to head up toward the ramps the lanes to my right were being fed to a lower floor ramp and were backed up down the ramp. I was directed to the ramp to 5 & 6. The right lane stopped about 2/3 the way up and was being directed into the 5th floor. I stayed in the left lane and drove right up to the roof. Once on the floor it was a free for all to park. No cast member directing cars so you had to find a spot of someone who left earlier in the day. This is typical in the evening but not mid afternoon. I found a spot in the row closest to the escalators but grabbed the 1st one I saw about 3/4ths the way down the row. In the end it took about 25 minutes. If I would have drawn one of the other ramps it would have been even longer. The new parking structure cannot come soon enough!

  • The new parking structure continues to move toward completion in 2019. They were pouring more concrete for the 5th floor on the back section. More escalators have been installed and preparations for the rest were underway nearby. There is no signs for the bridge over Magic Way yet though. Also interesting was the view into the first floor. It looks like framing for a wall is going up about 1/3 the way in. And there is still dirt in part of the garage with no floor poured yet. Wonder if that wall is to separate the tram area and security from the rest of the structure? Or if they are building some sort of cast member/support structure on the first level too in addition to the brick you can see from the Mickey and Friends garage.

  • I opted to walk to the park because I wanted to see Downtown Disney in the daylight and there seemed to be a lot of guests heading to the trams so I assumed there was a wait. I did not get a picture but I noticed they had samples of the paver patterns assuming for the new tram stop in the work area you walk by on the way to Downtown Disney in the Lilo Lot. There was only one set of security tables open it appeared and the line to enter near the former ESPN/Rainforest was backed up nearly to the crosswalk. I kept walking and from the hotels there was only only tent open too but the line was less than a handful of guests.

  • The Tap House and Ballast Point project had some more visible progress as final details are being installed. They will definitely miss the Fall 2018 opening not sure if they can get it done and open to make late 2018.. they have a little over a week I guess. I am sure they would prefer to have them open for the holiday rush.

  • My first attraction of the day was the Pixar Pal-A-Round. The app originally said 20 minutes but by the time I walked out there it was posted at 30 min. It ended up taking a couple minutes less but still a while. The good news was I had entertainment while I waited, I could hear the entire Pixarmonic Orchestra set. The Emotional Whirlwind had more conduit and piping installed and more of Flik's Fun Fair was removed since last week. Demolition looked just about done now. When we were just about ready to get off the Incredicoaster came to an E-Stop (the brakes catching are a distinct sound). It was down for several hours but did reopen later in the evening.

  • Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph was out near Stage 17 to meet guests. While I was waiting for a picture there was a family with two young kids, one a infant, under a year old, and the baby loved Ralph. Kept reaching out and playing with his mouth. It was fun to see. The older sibling was not as sure of the giant character. I still find it a little odd that the characters are meeting in Disney California Adventure and the preview is at Disneyland. Seems it would have made more sense to have them together. There is nothing showing at the Sunset Showcase Theater now.

  • Stage 12 has a new photo wall/spot to promote Mary Poppins Returns. When I walked by it was not really drawing the same level of interest as the others. The Up! balloons seemed to have the most interest in the couple minutes I was in the area.

  • At Disneyland I made a point to visit both Esmeralda and Fortune Red to pick up the second card in the set. I did not notice it but Esmeralda gave me the 1st card again. Fortune Red was being wonky too and ended up giving me two of the second card. The game/interaction still seems to have some bugs to work out.

  • The Wait Times board in the hub has returned to operation. So it appears the experiment to not use it has concluded. Hopefully the result is it will stick around. I like taking a glance at the times to get a feel for the park crowds.

  • A Christmas Fantasy Parade suffered an issues with Santa's sleigh last weekend so that unit is out of service. The parade was quickly altered and Santa joined the mail room float forcing Chip and Dale to walk. For most of the week the parade ended right after Buzz Lightyear. The version I saw included the tree decorating group as well as the reindeer then ended. So the only thing cut was the float.

  • Near Peter Pan the walls have come down and the planters have been adjusted to allow for a small queue for the disability access return queue. When I walked by there was no one waiting but I am sure having space for some guests out of the walkway will help with traffic flow. The extra space around the park is nice to keep things moving but the cost of losing the parklike feel in favor of wider walkways I am not sure I am for. Most are looking nice but its still a slippery slope.

  • The Tropical Hideaway has opened in Adventureland. Technically I think Thursday was still a soft opening day. The new area replaces the Oasis and features Dole Whips, steamed items, and some snacks. Seating is more open and includes views of the Jungle Cruise now. There are references from the skippers, Tiki Room and S.E.A. inside. I did a very quick day time walk through and an evening one. Both times there were a fair number of guests but it did not feel over crowded and seemed to be running smoothly. It is nice to see the area of the park with guest again. It has been years since the Oasis was fully utilized.

  • I grabbed dinner at Smokejumpers since I was heading to Disney California Adventure. I used mobile order and my food was ready very quickly. I was really surprised by the lack of lines at 5pm. It felt really quiet inside. There were plenty of seats and at one point three registered open with no guests.

  • I made a last minute decision to go see Viva Navidad! and arrived only a couple minutes before show time and could not get to the area I typically watch from. I ended up near the entrance to the swings. Form here it was a good show but I enjoy being near the characters more. Being off to the far side you realize how limited the view is of the characters for this show. There are plenty of dancers and entertainers though.

  • At Disneyland I ended up using both Main Street by passes this evening at different times. The first was when I entered the park just before the parade was to begin. I had the option and opted to go the route less traveled. I walked the path and only saw cast members. No guests till I reached the end. It is such an abrupt transition going from a wide open and well lit walkway into the hub before a parade arrives. I used the other side after the parade to reach Town Square.

  • While waiting for the Wintertime Enchantment moment in the small world mall area, Snow White walked by me. Then a minute or so Cinderella and then Ariel. I looked around and all three were just roaming around the area taking pictures and visiting with guests. No formal queues and no other cast members with them. The guests and princesses alike seemed to be having a great time. Giving the characters some freedom I think makes for a much more meaningful interaction than the staged meet and greets. For example Ariel was answering questions from a group of kids and explaining about her time under the sea. Cinderella was photo bombing people's selfies.. guests were working on selfies with small world holiday in the background and she walked up to several and joined the picture.

  • This was my first time seeing the Wintertime Enchantment moment at small world this year. It was rather disappointing. No projections and very little lighting effect. The snow came on late it seemed too. Overall the moments this year seemed to be less than years past. I really miss the white light transformation on Main Street in the hub and down the street.

  • Since it was a Thursday I was able to enjoy several performances by the Dickens Yuletide Band. I really enjoy the Christmas music. They continue to make realize how much I miss the Dickens carolers too.

  • Closed out my evening with Believe in Holiday Magic from Main Street USA. I arrived way too early but was meeting a friend and thought the crowds may be a little heavier than they turned out to be. The street really did not get busy until about 10 minutes before then guests really started to crowd in. Several pushed through the crowd and we were having Shanghai Disneyland flashbacks and comparisons. Then at show time my track record of attracting balloons and kids on shoulders in my sight lines continued with a kid holding a balloon popping up directly to my right then ending up in front of me as well as two other balloons (at least those the parents lowered soon after the opening shells). Its nights like this that make me really miss Tokyo and its rules and courtesy. There nothing is allowed above your head.

Here are some recent posts to the Geek's Blog:

Geek’s Blog Postings Recap December 1-17, 2018

Disney Related Press Releases

Be sure to check out the picture update that goes with this Geekspeak column, it can be found in our Disneyland Resort Pictorial Update section

Trip logs and mileage reports are in the Park Miles section.

Send comments, questions, any other email to: disneygeek@disneygeek.com

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